Disappointing Denmark flatter to deceive at the 2022 World Cup | inside World Soccer

Disappointing Denmark flatter to deceive at the 2022 World Cup

Friday, December 2, 2022

The World Cup has been underway for about two weeks now, with the group stages giving us the perfect chance to see what nations truly have the mettle to go on and win the sought-after trophy at the Lusail Stadium on December 18 - with defending world champions France arguably looking the most convincing despite their lengthy injury list and that loss to Tunisia after some heavy rotation.

Not all of the world's top sides have performed to the standards expected of them, however. In fact, there are several who have been rather underwhelming and have either been sent home or scrapped through the group by the skin of their teeth and will have their work cut out to turn things around in time for the knockout stages.

That brings us nicely on to Denmark. Many people's dark horses for the tournament after reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 18 months ago and beating France twice in the recent Nations League campaign, Denmark were tipped to give Les Bleus a run for their money at the top of Group D - but were sent home with their tails between their legs as the finished bottom below Australia and Tunisia.

A 0-0 draw with the latter left a lot to be desired in their opening game, before a 2-1 defeat to a Kylian Mbappe-inspired France meant the Danes had to beat Australia in the final group match to progress to the round of 16. That they didn't.

Big odd-on favourites, the Red and Whites dominated 69% of the possession of the football, but couldn't create anything of note and never really troubled former Brighton and Arsenal keeper Matt Ryan with any of their mediocre three shots on target.

The Socceroos' historic breakthrough came 60 minutes into the game — Denmark were dispossessed in the Australian penalty area and Melbourne City's Matthew Leckie ended the subsequent counter-attack with a cool finish past the towering Kasper Schmeichel.

Graham Arnold's men still had 30 minutes to hold on to their lead in order to progress from the group stages for just the second time in World Cup history, and Denmark were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them to try and find a breakthrough.

However, Harry Souttar put in one of the best defensive performances we have seen at this World Cup thus far to bat away almost every Denmark attack and the Australians held on for their first-ever clean sheet against European opposition to send the Red and Whites home early with serious questions to ask of themselves.

It's the Socceroos who now find themselves in a blockbuster clash with a certain Lionel Messi in the round of 16 on Saturday evening - which they are as far out as 14/1 to win if you're looking for bet on Argentina v Australia.

They might have been nothing more than dark horses entering this tournament, and maybe the run to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 was nothing more than a flash in pan after all, but regardless Denmark have definitely still massively underachieved at this World Cup.

10th in the FIFA world rankings, there are no excuses to finishing bottom of a group that contained Tunisia (30th) and Australia (38th). Denmark will look at this as a wasted opportunity to do something of a note at a World Cup, and many of their best players - like Christian Eriksen, Schmeichel and Simon Kjaer — won't be around in four years for the next edition.

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